The Madison Times, October 22, 2014
In a year when enduring images have been burned into our collective memories of the great loss of life and indescribable destruction that occurred in the Gaza a few short months ago, a landmark national conference is coming to Madison on Nov. 7-8 that seeks to chart the path to a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
“Voices for Peace and Justice in the Holy Land,” is a two-day conference occurring at the UW-Madison’s Pyle Center that will examine the role of the United States in Palestine/Israel, at an event where participants can listen to voices not often heard in the quest for peace and justice in the Holy Land. Local organizers describe this as an opportunity to hear the stories and the political and theological perspectives of Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and secular writers and activists concerned with justice and peace in Palestine/Israel.
The conference is sponsored on a national basis by the Friends of Sabeel of North America (FOSNA), as well as a variety of locally-based groups drawn from a diversity of social justice and religious traditions, and the UW-Madison chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. Distinguished plenary speakers from the US and Israel/Palestine will address the current situation on the ground in Gaza, in the West Bank, and for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and will explore the impact of US foreign policy, the media, and religion on the region’s struggle for justice.
The goal of the conference, organizers say, is to educate, inspire, and make connections to galvanize advocacy for justice in Palestine-Israel. In this sense, the gathering is seen as a place where the seeds of future action can be planted, and as the conference ends, the real work will be just beginning.
A Friday evening Palestinian Cultural Program is free and open to the public, and features Remi Kanazi, a spoken word artist, writer and activist, Also performing are the Milwaukee Students for Justice in Palestine Dance Troupe, featuring Debke folk dancing.
Journalist John Pilger writes,”Remi Kanazi’s poetry, full of defiance and longing, allows us to feel the power and pain of Palestine’s struggle.” Novelist John Berger adds, “You want to hear a voice which refuses to be silenced, and only such voices carry the deep truth about what’s happening these days… in Gaza or Iraq or East Jerusalem.”